10 Tips for Packing Your Child's School Lunch

Cindy Uken | Oct 6th 2017

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Packing a school lunch for a child with type 2 diabetes requires some thought and planning. The following tips are designed to make filling your child’s lunch box with the appropriate foods a little easier.

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Follow the “MyPlate” guidelines

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Half of your child’s lunch should consist of fresh produce. About one-quarter of the lunch should be grains and one-quarter protein. Pack fat-free or lowfat milk instead of soda, sports drinks, or other sugary drinks.

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Pack fast-acting carbohydrate snacks in the event your child’s blood sugar drops

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If your child has diabetes, take extra care to pack what are commonly called “rescue” foods. Make sure they are easily accessible in the child’s lunch box. Some excellent options are a juice box, Smarties, M&M’s, or fruit snacks.

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Pack foods properly

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Purchase storage containers, plastic sandwich bags, a thermos, and an insulated lunch bag or cooler to keep things organized.

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Keep it fruity

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Include whole fruit like apples, bananas, oranges, clementines, pears, nectarines, grapes or peaches. These are easy to grab and go. Also consider canned fruit (canned in juice, not syrup). Try the individual serving cups or cans of mandarin oranges, peaches, or fruit cocktail.

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Let your child help plan her lunch

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When you shop, take your child along. Let him or her help make the selections that best suit their tastes.

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Don’t forget the water

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Children with diabetes have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, putting them at greater risk for dehydration and dangerously low blood pressure. Don’t rely on the school water fountain to sustain your child. Pack a water bottle that will keep water cool throughout the day.

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Make it flavorful

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Mix it up while keeping it healthy and delicious. Add some extras, like hot sauce, hummus, light salad dressing, mustard, salsa, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, lime and/or lemon juice.

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Consider the food swap

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Instead of Oreos, pack whole-wheat graham crackers with natural peanut or almond butter. And, instead of a chocolate bar, have fun and toss in “ants on a log” (Celery sticks smeared with peanut butter and topped with raisins—healthy nutritious and fun all at the same time.)

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Keep the school nurse in the loop

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Your child’s teacher and the school nurse should always be informed about your child’s diabetes and his or her food dos and don’ts in case of any problem or bad reaction.